Harare City Council has rejected 25 tonnes of sulphuric acid delivered to Morton Jaffray Water Plant by Zimphos arguing the chemical was substandard and dangerous to residents.
The chemical was dark purple in colour while the tender specifications indicate the chemical should be a clear oily corrosive liquid.
There is also suspicion the chemical contained toxic substances such as lead and arsenic.
Sulphuric acid is used to correct the pH (acidity and/or alkalinity) of raw water.
According to information from city sources, Zimphos delivered bulk sulphuric acid on September 3 this year “which did not meet our specification and hence the acid was rejected”.
Officers manning the water treatment plant tested the chemical as required and established it was inferior.
The chemical was taken to the Standards Association of Zimbabwe for further analysis where it showed deterioration on the strength of the acid from 98 percent to 87,24 percent.
Sources indicated that the same laboratory was now testing the sediments in the acid to check whether there were traces of toxic metals such as lead or arsenic.
Chemplex Corporation chief executive officer Mr Misheck Kachere yesterday confirmed that the consignment was rejected but he disputed allegations that the chemical was substandard.
He accused the city of politicising the issue because of the ongoing dispute between council and Chemplex Corporation. “We have problems with the city. Somebody is trying to make political mileage out of this,” he said.
Mr Kachere said Zimphos has been supplying the same chemical to the city without any problems.
“The only problem with the sulphuric acid we delivered was the colour. It was purplish. The colour depends with the tanker used. The tankers could have been used to transport molasses before the sulphuric acid,” he said.
He said the sulphuric acid that Zimphos is supplying is imported from South Africa because the Zimphos plant is undergoing refurbishment.
“There is no problem with our chemical. As far as our chemist is concerned the chemical meets standards. It was tested and was found out that there were no heavy metals like mercury,” he said.
He said the company was now working on the supply of a new consignment after accepting the returned tanker.
“We are supplying them with imports from South Africa. We are refurbishing our sulphuric acid plant. The new consignment is now in Harare,’ he said.
City spokesman Mr Leslie Gwindi confirmed the city had refused to accept the substandard chemical.
“We are not in the business of endangering residents by accepting substandard chemicals. This is not the first time Zimphos has supplied substandard chemicals,” said Mr Gwindi.
He said council would only do business with the company when it improved the quality of its chemicals.
He alleged Zimphos had been dragging its feet on an invitation to discuss the quality issues with council and has instead chosen to go to the media.
He said council opted for the co-supplier of the chemical, Kleinridge, who delivered a consignment that met specifications.
Harare uses 150 tonnes of sulphuric acid every month. At least US$66 000 is required to buy the chemical every month, which translates to 3,29 percent of the whole water chemicals treatment bill.
Last month a wrong consignment of cyanide chemical was delivered to the city and was immediately turned away.
Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Minister Ignatius Chombo has already appointed a committee to investigate the wrong delivery.
Harare and Zimphos have previously traded accusations over allegations that Zimphos was supplying poor quality water treatment chemicals that damaged plant and equipment at Morton Jaffray Water Plant.
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Zimbabwe: Another Water Chemical Flub
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